If a married couple has been separated for 4 years and 1 spouse dies, does the surviving spouse still has the right to decide funeral arrangements?

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If a married couple has been separated for 4 years and 1 spouse dies, does the surviving spouse still has the right to decide funeral arrangements?

If that surviving spouse simply abandons the deceased body at a funeral home and does nothing, what recourse does the deceased’s family have to claim the body and after what amount of time?

Asked on February 28, 2013 under Estate Planning, Florida

Answers:

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

So long as a person is married, the surviving spouse has the right to inherit in Florida and has priority in making funeral arrangements and probating the estate.  However, if the spouse takes no action, the family is able to do so.  There is no specific time period that must pass.

I would ask the spouse to sign a paper stating that he or she waives all rights to make funeral or burial arrangements and to serve as Personal Representative of the Estate.  Have this notarized if possible.  If the spouse will not cooperate, the funeral home will usually follow the family's wishes (after all, they want to be paid).  There are methods in the probate court to have a family member serve as Personal Representative if the spouse will not serve.


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